Valley First

Identity Fraud Upswing Continues

Increased vigilance required to help protect finances
September 9, 2014

Penticton, B.C.—Though efforts to increase the public’s fraud awareness continue with full force, the number of Canadians falling prey to identity fraud is on the rise.

The reported amount of losses to fraud decreased in 2013, but figures from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) show that the number of reported identity fraud victims was up by nearly 14 per cent over the previous year. CAFC also estimates their statistics account for less than five per cent of actual fraudulent activity.

That upward trend has continued into 2014, with CAFC’s mid-year numbers suggesting that just as many people, if not more, will be defrauded this year.

“Though the dollar value of losses is decreasing, what we really want to see is fewer people victimized,” says Lindzee Herring, assistant vice-president of corporate security at Valley First. “Dealing with the aftermath of identity fraud is unpleasant and stressful, so we really encourage our members to take every possible step to safeguard their identity.”

Personal documents are one of the most commonly-exploited means of identity theft.

“Paper is the easiest for criminals to exploit for identity fraud,” Herring says. “People make it too easy for criminals to obtain confidential personal information.”

Mail theft and dumpster diving for personal documents like financial statements or mailings are typical avenues that criminals use to obtain someone’s confidential personal information.

“Paper account statements can be less secure than online statements because people are failing to be vigilant in safeguarding their confidential documents,” says Herring. “Identity theft through the internet is always a possibility, but it generally requires a higher degree of sophistication and expertise.”

For several years, Valley First has offered its members free, secure electronic account statements (e-statements), recommending the service as one measure for reducing the risk of identity theft.

“We work to create good things for our members and e-statements is just one way we can help them protect their confidential information,” Herring says. “Electronic statements, along with proper computer security and regular, secure document shredding are just a few of the layers of security consumers can use to increase the security of their personal information.”

Additional tips and information on protecting yourself from fraud can be found in the Privacy & Security section of our website.

About Valley First

Valley First is a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union, which has 38 branches and 29 insurance offices throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kitimat and Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. Led by Launi Skinner, First West has $7.7 billion in assets under administration, more than 177,000 members and close to 1,300 employees.

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